Prehistoric Hunter Gatherers


Prehistoric Hunter Gatherers: The Emergence of Cultural Complexity

Book Details

Publisher  Academic Press
Publication Date   August 1, 1988
ISBN  0125647514
Pages  450

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Archaeologists separate hunter-gatherers into two camps "simple" and "complex." Recently there has been heated discourse as to the "nature" of complex hunter-gatherer societies. While some say it is a transitional phase between foragers and agriculturist, others argue it is an independent phe- nomenon. The classic view of hunter-gatherers is that they are small, mobile, and egalitarian. In general hunter-gatherer societies are described as having a high level of individual autonomy in which every individual has equal access to resources. One of the most significant aspects of complex hunter- gatherers is their increase in intensification of foodstuffs, meaning an in- crease in productivity and production due to technological advances, food storage, and the diversification of resources exploited. The definition of cultural complexity generally refers to aspects of a cul- ture that have the greatest effects on material or archaeological remains. These include prestige items, monumental construction, and larger settle- ments, which suggest social and economic inequalities, and a centralization of political power. Increasing complexity has been associ- ated with a variety of factors including, environment, resource availability, subsistence, sedentasism, technology, storage, population, exchange, conflict, and cooperation.

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